NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There may be light at the end of the tunnel for the Gateway project.
Bipartisan supporters say it is critical to improve rail commuting between New Jersey and New York.
President Donald Trump seemed to slam the door on the project, but supporters claimed it cracked open Thursday – at least a little.
He didn’t want to gloat, but Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., couldn’t resist at least cracking a smile, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
“The people in New York today are very happy with the results that we achieved on Gateway,” he said.
Schumer said more than $500 million for the project is included in a critical spending plan that’s on its way to Congressional passage.
Supporters hope it is a down payment on the billions to replace the creaky Portal Bridge that slows down NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak trains and build a new rail tunnel to increase capacity between New Jersey and New York.
The Trump administration had threatened to veto the spending bill if it funded Gateway, but backed down.
“Let’s cut right to the chase, Is the president going to sign the bill? The answer is yes,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said.
There’s a sense the president opposed Gateway out of frustration with Schumer – perhaps his blocking of judicial nominees or his opposition to a border wall, Aiello reported.
“Unfortunately, it’s now being held hostage to politics. And that’s something we never wanted for this, because this project has bipartisan support,” said Carlo Scissura, who represents the New York building industry.
Gateway would mean thousands of construction-related jobs for a decade or more.
Aiello: “Was it a mistake not to get an iron-clad agreement before President Obama left office to fund this thing?”
Scissura: “Yes. A check should have been cut.”
Scissura hopes construction on the Portal Bridge can begin soon and when the president sees the progress, he’ll support full funding.
The administration, however, insists the spending bill cancels any preferential treatment for Gateway and claims the future of the project is far from decided.